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White House Forum encourages STEM education for minorities

6:34 PM, Nov 21, 2013   |    comments
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WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- It is no surprise that Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education is a challenge to take on. But, with the evolution of today's generation in technology and life style, it is critical that more youth get involved in the rapid growing STEM industries of our future, according to educators and lawmakers. Focusing on the minority youth involvement in STEM has officially become a focus of the U.S. Department of Energy.

In September, the Department of Energy launched The Minorities in Energy Initiative to engage more minorities in STEM education, climate change and energy-focused economic development.  

Last week, the Ambassadors of the initiative participated in a White House Forum to engage in a dialogue on how to move forward with the new initiative.

"This is unacceptable," Dot Harris, the Director of the Office of Economy Impact and Diversity at the Department of Energy, said. She stressed at the discussion that the U.S. students rank extremely low when it comes to math and science in comparison to other countries. It was agreed among the Ambassadors there needs to be more minority participation in the STEM fields.

Nina Davuluri, Miss America 2014, spoke at the forum encouraging "constructive and civil dialogue on diversity issues." Davuluri plans on attending medical school and is serving as a spokesperson on STEM for her year as Miss America.

"We need to re-teach the STEM programs and listen to the voices of the students," said President of The University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Freeman Hrabowski, III. "We need to change the culture of science and engineering."

When it came to tackle the answer of why many minority students are not motivated to go into STEM, our country's lack of "will," was the answer given by Wayne Watson, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the National Association of Equal Opportunity for Higher Education.

"We don't want to take that young Hispanic guy, or that young black kid...They are not giving internships to these kids...we don't have the will in Washington," Watson said.

The United States is heading to a minority majority community. "We are really losing by not focusing on the minorities and we will end up buying from other countries and they will have the market," Robert Gee, President of Gee Strategies Group LLC, explained to the audience.

 

By 2020, there will be 500,000 jobs in STEM industries. Nevertheless, the set back, is not having the trained work force, according to Camsie McAdams, Senior Advisor on STEM Education, U.S. Department of Education.

"We need people who will show up and work hard and we will train them...We need to ask people what they need and if they know [STEM programs outside of college] exist." McAdams said.


Noor Tagouri


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